This piece featured in the match programme for the Prescot Cables v Widnes semi final tie in the 2018/19 Liverpool County FA Senior Cup.
As a supporter of both clubs, it was a great story to write up.
For this Memory Match feature, we turn the clock back seven years to the Liverpool Senior Cup Semi-Final on February 28th, 2012, when Prescot Cables travelled to Prenton Park to play Tranmere Rovers.
Cables had been beaten 7 – 6 on penalties by Southport in the previous round, but had been reinstated after the Sandgrounders were expelled for fielding an ineligible player.
This was new manager Shaun Reid’s third game in charge of Cables, and one he was looking forward to. “This is an excellent opportunity for these lads to show they can play at a higher level,” said Reid. “It’s 11 versus 11 and if our eleven want it enough and work hard enough then we can get something out of the game”.
However, the new manager was concerned about the fitness levels of his side and feared that their undoing could be in the final stages when fatigue would strike the part-time players.
Shaun Garnett named a very strong looking Tranmere side for the tie, including a number of players with considerable first team experience.
Cables began the game brightly and deserved the lead, on 20 minutes, when a long free kick was not dealt with by the Tranmere defence, allowing Steven Tames to sneak in, unmarked at the far post to turn the ball in. Tranmere’s ex Swansea and Leeds star Andy Robinson netted an equaliser ten minutes later, firing a low free kick from the edge of the box past the wall and the despairing dive of Steven Loughrigg.
However, within five minutes Cables went ahead again, when Tames’ shot from the angle of the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Mark McChrystal, which wrong-footed the keeper and nestled inside the near post.
Half Time: Tranmere Rovers 1, Prescot Cables 2
Just a minute into the second half, Tranmere thought they had levelled the game again when Bakayogo’s cross was volleyed home by Andy Robinson, but the strike was ruled out by a flag for offside. Rovers piled on the pressure in search of an equaliser, which eventually game just before the hour after Longrigg was unable to hold a stinging long range shot and Zoumana Bakayogo turned in the rebound.
Cables were full of character and fight, epitomised by a Man of the Match performance from captain, Joe Gibiliru. Indeed, Cables had the ball in the net again, when a deep free kick was glanced into the net by Freddie Potter. Unfortunately for Cables the lineswoman on the near side flagged for offside.
With the scores level, Tranmere went ahead for the first time in the match in the 89th minute when neat interplay down the left between Akins and Bakayogo led to a square ball across the box for Joe Conchie to tap into an empty net. However, the Cables heads did not drop and they belied their Manager’s fears of fatigue when, four minutes into added time, John Couch’s deep cross from the right wing was placed perfectly onto the head of Michael Grogan to nod the ball into the far corner and snatch a dramatic equaliser, to the disgust of Rovers manager, who complained bitterly to the referee about the amount of stoppage time played.
Full Time: Tranmere Rovers 3, Prescot Cables 3
In extra time, the fitness of the Tranmere players began to tell and Rovers went ahead again just before half time in extra time, when neat footwork by Ellis Healing played in Conchie to blast the ball past Longrigg.
Incredibly, within a minute, never say die Cables came back again. A ball played into the Tranmere area was headed on to Steven Tames. With his back to goal, he completed his hat trick with an audacious back heel, to the disbelief of the Rovers defenders and goalkeeper, and the delight of the small band of travelling fans.
Unsurprisingly, the pace of the game dropped in the second half of extra time, and several Cables players were affected by cramp after giving their all. Lucas Akins flashed shots past the post and bar for the homesters, but with no further scoring, the match went to a penalty shootout.
Full time after Extra Time: Tranmere Rovers 4, Prescot Cables 4
Josh Labadie, Will Vaulks and Michael Kay for Rovers and Joe Gibiliru and Steven Tames for Prescot all successfully converted their spot kicks, at the Cowshed end, before the decisive moment of the match. Liam Hollett blasted Cables’ third penalty straight down the middle, but Andy Coughlin in the home goal, diving to his left stuck out a strong right hand to prevent the goal, and give Tranmere the advantage.
Joe Conchie netted Tranmere’s fourth, meaning that Michael Grogan had to score to keep Cables in the tie. He coolly sent the keeper the wrong way, but Lucas Akins kept his composure to convert for Rovers and win the tie.
|Tranmere Rovers||Prescot Cables|
|Labadie||1 – 0|
|1 – 1||Gibiliru|
|Vaulks||2 – 1|
|2 – 2||Tames|
|Kay||3 – 2|
|3 – 2||Coughlin save from Hollett|
|Akins||5 – 3|
Tranmere Rovers win 5 – 3 on penalties
TRANMERE ROVERS (4-4-1-1): Andy Coughlin, Will Vaulks, Michael Kay, Mark McCrystal, Zoumana Bakayogo (Steve Wainwright 91), Jake Kirby, Joss Labadie, Ellis Healing, Lucas Akins, Andy Robinson (Joe Conchie 60), Enoch Showumni (Ellis Appleton 60).
Sub not used: John Courtney (gk).
Goals: Robinson (30) Bakayogo (59) Conchie (89, 104)
PRESCOT CABLES (4-1-4-1): Stephen Longrigg, Michael Grogan, Liam Hollett, Stuart McMullan, Colin Flood, Joe Gibiliru, John Couch, Jacob Baptista (Tony James 80), Chris Rowntree (Chris McGann 69), James Thomas (Freddie Potter 58), Steven Tames.
Subs not used: Francis Foy, Jack Booth.
Goals: Tames (20, 35, 105) Grogan (90)
The defeat was heart-breaking for Liam Hollett and for the Man of the Match Joe Gibiliru, but was cruel on the whole of the Evo-Stik First Division North side, who had matched Tranmere Rovers, toe-to-toe, for 120 pulsating minutes of cup football.
After the game, Reid said he was delighted with the endeavour of his new side but disappointed to have lost and frustrated with a decision which denied them a goal to win the tie. “If you look at the side Tranmere put out, then it was clear their intention was to win the game,” said Reid. “So for my boys, who had been at work all day, to put that sort of shift in was great. They all gave it everything, but football can be very unjust because we deserved to win the game. Tranmere couldn’t cope with us when we changed shape but we still lost the game and that riles me.”
After just eight games in charge Reid quit Prescot Cables to take the manager’s job at Warrington Town, causing much anger around Hope Street.
Hat trick hero Steven Tames was invited for a trial by Sheffield Wednesday, but went instead on trial to Accrington, and eventually moved to Southport at the end of the season. He now plays for Bala Town in the Welsh Premier League.